There was a time when John Danks appeared as though he could become a potential All-Star pitcher, helping to anchor the top of the Chicago White Sox rotation for years to come. From 2008 through 2010, Danks put together a 40-31 record with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.241 WHiP. Despite not being a strikeout artist, only averaging seven strikeouts per nine innings over that time, Danks appeared as though he was ready to become a key piece of the White Sox rotation.
Instead, everything went downhill at the beginning of the 2011 season. After starting the year 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA, Danks managed to get himself going, finishing the year with an 8-12 record and a 4.33 ERA. That improvement over the second part of the season was enough for the White Sox to give Danks a five year, $65 Million extension.
Thus far, the White Sox have received virtually nothing for their investment. John Danks has made a combined 31 starts over the past two years, compiling a 7-18 record with a 5.02 ERA. The highlight of those two years has been John getting to play with his brother Jordan Danks. Although John was only 28 at the end of last season, it may have been fair to wonder whether or not the White Sox would get anything out of that contract.
It appears as though Danks may be trending back in the right direction. Over a twelve start period from June 26th through August 25th last year, Danks was closer to the pitcher he had been from 2008 through 2010, posting a 3.62 ERA and a 1.195 WHiP before wearing down towards the end of the season. So far in Spring Training, Danks has posted a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings of work. While his control is not quite there, as Danks has issued eight walks thus far, he has managed to minimize the damage.
Finally healthy for the first time in two years, and able to go through a complete Spring Training, John Danks may be able to be that pitcher the White Sox thought they were signing. On a team that needs to find a second starter after Chris Sale, if Danks is able to pitch at the level that he displayed over that two month stretch last season, he may be that pitcher once again.
There was a time when John Danks was expected to help solidify the top of the White Sox rotation. Now that he is healthy, Danks may finally be able to be that pitcher for Chicago.